Category Archives: tragedy

Act Three: Can You Give Me a Hand (or 3)?

Act Three, Scene One of Titus Andronicus begins with a procession of Judges and Senators heading to the trial of Martius and Quintus.  Titus, attempting to get them to hear his pleas, prostrates himself before them and gives a long (26 line) speech.  What he doesn’t know is that the audience isn’t there, they’ve walked on by.
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Act Two: Three Gothic Villains, One Roman Baddie, and the Moorish Puppetmaster

As Act Two of Titus Andronicus begins, we hear from Aaron the Moor for the first time.  He is named in the list of characters as “Aaron, a Moor, lover of Tamora.”  Most critics state that Aaron is her slave, but there isn’t much to support this in Aaron’s opening speech, the play’s first soliloquy. [is Aaron the only character to have monologues?  we’ll have to wait and see] Aaron makes reference to his “slavish weeds and servile thoughts” (II.i.18), but this is less than clear-cut; and if he is her slave, his job to “wait” on her turns out to be to “wanton” with her (II.i.21), then he would be her sex slave.  This may be the appearance, but he says that Tamora is his “prisoner held, fettered in amorous chains, // And … bound to Aaron’s charming eyes” (II.1.15-16).  So it’s an interesting relationship to say the least.
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Act One: Immediately into the Blood

OK, as I mentioned on Saturday, Act One, Scene One, of Titus Andronicus is the longest first scene in all of Shakespeare (at 498 lines, it’s longer than five plays’ entire first acts; the next longest is Much Ado About Nothing, at 312 lines).  With all that length, you might suspect a quiet opening, a slow expositional build to content.  And you’d be wrong.  It begins with a flourish, literally, as the Roman Senators and Tribunes enter, then followed onstage–through opposite doors–the late (and unnamed) emperor’s sons, Saturninus and his younger brother, Bassianus, and THEIR soldiers.

That’s a boatload of people on stage… more than enough to grab the audience’s attention.

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